GOP's Obamacare Repeal Cuts Insured by 32 Million, CBO Says

  • White House tries to revive health vote after lawmakers balk
  • Estimate comes after McConnell vows vote on fully undoing ACA

CBO Says Obamacare Repeal Would Cut Insured by 32 Million

A Republican fallback plan to repeal all of Obamacare without a replacement health program would lead to 32 million more people uninsured than under current law, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

That’s about 10 million more uninsured than the estimated 22 million people who wouldn’t be covered under a previous Senate Republican bill to replace many parts of Obamacare. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate may vote on the measure as soon as next week, though support for it is uncertain.

The full-repeal proposal is called the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act. It’s an updated version of a bill that Republicans passed in 2015 that was vetoed by then-president Barack Obama. The proposal would repeal Obamacare’s coverage expansion in two years, giving lawmakers time to come up with a replacement.

Path Forward?

Republicans are scrambling to come up with a way forward on their seven-year-old promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. McConnell has so far failed to unify his caucus and bring a bill to a vote after moderates and conservatives defected over conflicting objections to the plans. On Wednesday, the White House touted a plan from Texas Senator Ted Cruz that would allow limited, cheaper insurance plans.

Cruz’s plan is part of prior measure, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, that didn’t attract enough votes to start debate after two other conservative senators defected from the effort on Monday night. On Wednesday, President Donald Trump called lawmakers to the White House to try and find a way forward with that bill or another.

The repeal-only proposal would have grave effects on the market for individual insurance where many in Obamacare currently get their plans. CBO estimated that the repeal would result in about half of the population living in areas where no insurer would offer plans in the nongroup market by 2020, a number that increases to about three-fourths of Americans by 2026.

Effect on Premiums

It would also raise the costs for people to buy insurance, by about 25 percent in 2018 and more afterwards. The bill eliminates a requirement that all Americans carry insurance, which would mean that those who ended up buying health coverage would be sicker, causing insurers to charge more to make up for their costs. After 2020, “enrollment would continue to drop and premiums would continue to increase in each subsequent year,” the CBO said.

The proposal would reduce the federal deficit by $473 billion over 10 years, according to the CBO, compared to $321 billion under the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The savings in both plans come from rolling back Obamacare’s expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor and ending or limiting subsidies to help people purchase insurance.

The administration dismissed the CBO analysis, saying its methodology is flawed. “This score fails to take into account the president’s full plan, which includes a replacement for Obamacare and administrative actions to reduce costs and expand access to quality, affordable care,” the White House said in a statement.

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